Two of the Commonwealth’s most historic organizations announced today a collaborative event in celebration of Massachusetts’ state fruit – the cranberry. Plimoth Patuxet Museums, America’s acclaimed living history museum, founded in 1947, and Massachusetts Cranberries, established as Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association (CCCGA) in 1888, are launching CranFest, an annual festival set to take place November 11 and 12.
“Massachusetts Cranberries is excited about this natural collaboration, 75 years in the making, as Plimoth Patuxet’s founder, Henry Hornblower II was a cranberry grower himself,” stated the organization’s Executive Director Brian Wick. “We are proud to share the story of the cranberry and continue to educate the public about our native berry with our friends at Plimoth Patuxet Museums.”
CranFest is a two-day festival on the grounds of Plimoth Patuxet, celebrating and communicating the enduring history and versatility of Massachusetts cranberries, and their role in the culture, livelihood, and culinary traditions of the region. CranFest’s “Family Day” offers activities for all-ages, including craft making and storytelling programs, games and seasonal activities. “Foodie Day” inspires a festive mood through lectures, a cranberry recipe contest, local wine/beer tastings and culinary treasures paired with musical entertainment. The festival offers opportunities to enjoy the tastes of local food truck vendors, viewings of a cranberry documentary in Plimoth Cinema, and cranberry-themed purveyor’s goods in an open-air market.
“We’re delighted to partner with Massachusetts Cranberries to present this wonderful, festive event that offers something for everyone,” said Ellie Donovan, Plimoth Patuxet Museums’ executive director. “As a cultural destination dedicated to bringing history to life, we’re excited about celebrating the cranberry, the role it has in our region’s traditions, and its iconic place in New England life.”
With common threads of longevity and mission-driven commitments to education, cultural heritage, the economy and well-being of the region’s communities, both Plimoth Patuxet and Massachusetts Cranberries anticipate this first step in fruitful future collaborations.
The cranberry has long-standing roots in regional history. Indigenous People throughout southeastern Massachusetts long enjoyed the annual harvest of sasumuneash – wild cranberries – for thousands of years. The indigenous fruit served as a reliable staple in diet, as medicine for healing, and to ward off seasickness.
As the founder of cranberry cultivation, Massachusetts currently stands as the second largest cranberry growing region in the country. Cultivation of the cranberry began in 1816, when Revolutionary War veteran Captain Henry Hall, of Dennis, Cape Cod, observed the improved growing habit of wild cranberries in his bogs as winds covered them in sand. Captain Hall developed a technique of spreading sand on transplanted cranberry vines, which quickly became an effective growing method. Growers increased steadily, and “Cranberry Fever” struck, cultivating an industry boom. In that era, the cranberry harvest became so vital to local and state economies that Massachusetts children could be excused from school to work the bogs during harvest season. Fast forward to today, when farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries annually across the United States and are exported to countries all over the world. Local food movements have rekindled interest among consumers in food origins, offering growers a chance to showcase their craft and passion with new audiences.
“CranFest will add yet another exciting event over Plymouth’s busy Thanksgiving season and will offer an additional interpretation of this important time in our American history,” said Lea Filson, President/CEO of See Plymouth. “Plimoth Patuxet Museums and Massachusetts Cranberries are already economic drivers that support the region’s business community. This partnership will increase tourism and add to our cultural experiences.”
To learn more about CranFest, sponsorship opportunities, vendor information and more, visit plimoth.org/events/cranfest.
For more information about Massachusetts cranberries and their health benefits, visit Massachusetts Cranberries at cranberries.org, or follow the Association on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. For more information about Plimoth Patuxet, visit plimoth.org, or follow the Museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and Mayflower on Facebook and Instagram.